Appalachian Trail Community: Roan Mountain - Carter County, Tennessee

Connecting Town and Trail

Located in Carter County, Tennessee, Roan Mountain is a small town with a big heart. As the Appalachian Trail’s 41st A.T. Community, the town is a welcoming haven providing food, shelter, medical care and other services for hikers. The county’s and town’s leaders, as well as the area’s land managers and trail maintaining club members, dedicate their time and efforts to the promotion and preservation of the A.T. and Carter County’s many natural resources for the enjoyment of residents and visitors.

The Roan Massif is one of the most beautiful and spectacular sections of the Appalachian Trail, cutting through scenic Carver’s Gap and the Roan Balds. The Trail climbs through the clouds to over 6,000 feet, passes through the largest stand of Catawba rhododendron in the world, crosses the great bald of Hump Mountain, and looks down on mountain ridges stretching as far as the eye can see in every direction.

Whether hiking through or spending the night to watch the sun rise over the Blue Ridge Mountains, hikers of all kinds will enjoy the views and the town’s hospitality.

Plan Your Visit

Carter County is located in the mountains of Northeast Tennessee, a haven for outdoor enthusiasts throughout the year. For outdoor enthusiasts, the area offers boating, fishing, hiking and camping. Visitors also can drive the winding mountain roads of Carter County to take in beautiful Appalachian vistas and cool mountain coves. In addition to passing over the Roan Highlands, the Appalachian Trail meanders past nearby Watauga Lake, with water activities in abundance.

Trails play a significant role in Roan Mountain’s history, leading some to claim “All trails lead to Roan.” In September 1780, the Overmountain Men — a group of American soldiers who fought during the American Revolution — passed through Roan Mountain on their way to North Carolina as part of the Kings Mountain campaign. On the night of September 26, these men camped at Shelving Rock, located between Roan Mountain and Roan Mountain State Park. The site is now part of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In the early 1880s, the industrialist and former Union general John T. Wilder established the Roan Mountain community, originally known as Roan Mountain Station, as a stop along the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad (otherwise known as “Tweetsie” railroad). Today, the Tweetsie Trail is a rail-to-trail project connecting Johnson City and Elizabethton, which serves as the seat of Carter County.

The Roan Mountain Rhododendron Festival is held each June at Roan Mountain State Park. Visitors can sample traditional foods, purchase locally handmade crafts, and listen to traditional Southern Appalachian musicians, as well as to view the alpine Catawba rhododendrons in full bloom.

For more information, visit:

Roan Mountain Citizens Club 

Tennessee Eastman Hiking & Canoeing Club

Tennessee State Parks

Carter County Tourism

Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy